THE NIGHT LARRY KRAMER KISSED ME directed by Tim Kirkman, written and performed by David Drake, produced by Jennifer Schaefer and Kirkland Tibbels. 81 minutes. A Film Next Releasing production. A Continuities release. Opens Friday (November 10). Rating: NNNNN
in the early 90s, david drake was New York's off-Broadway king. He wrote and starred in the Obie-winning play The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me. Drake's one-man show sums up a gay man's life journey, from childhood to cruising gyms and clubs to coping with AIDS. Now, almost a decade later, the play, with a rewritten ending, becomes a dated-feeling movie. It's still a solid piece of theatre, but it's fuelled by one too many cliches, and Drake's impassioned anger needs to be directed toward specific subjects.
If this sounds like a pan of the film, it's not meant to be. Drake is a stellar performer, his rhythmic monologues spring out of his mouth, and you can almost imagine a bouncing red ball at the bottom of the screen while he speaks.
My complaints have less to do with his work than with my overall pissed-off feeling that gay cinema is in the doldrums. Last month, the dramatically tired and trite The Broken Hearts Club opened, and now we get a movie that arrives almost a decade late for the party.
I know I've been spoiled by Queer As Folk -- the success of that TV series has made me a more demanding audience. Stories of coming out, first crushes and making a home in the gay community are crucial, but, damn, they can be boring.
The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me is important and should be seen and enjoyed, especially for the rewritten finale in which Drake imagines a future after a queer uprising has taken place in America and gay rights are legislated. In a way, I wish Drake had rewritten some of the other scenes, giving them a fresher spin, but in the current artistic climate, beggars can't be choosers.